Monday, April 30, 2007

Anyone know what these are? If you do, put me out my misery, puhleezzee. Tell me!

A few weeks ago, like I do every weekday morning, I got off the #17 at SW 3rd and Salmon, then walked back north half a block to wait for the #10. This particular morning something totally different jumped right out at me, there behind one of the metal, backless benches. Here are six photos of the lovely group of plants with a somewhat astonishing mix of color, shape and size.

I don't have a clue what these beautiful plants are, and I have to report that one day last week they were changed. No, the reds didn't change to greens, the little bell-like flowers didn't blow away in the breeze. Some human being pruned them back to half their original height of about four feet! I'm so thankful for my camera and that I took time to notice them instead of just looking for my next bus!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Recently the streets and sidewalks, plus vehicles, took on a pink tint ...

Early week before last, the winds blew and the blossoms flew.

That's some kind of coverage on that back window, isn't it? Can anyone say "Cherry Blossom Parade" instead of Rose Parade?

You can see that the blossoms covered the sidewalk beneath the tree, too. This was going on all over Portland. Never seen anything like it, unless you count the yellow skies and everything-else-in-existence when the pine pollen lets loose down home!

Delicate pink petals mix well with bright green grass. If you feel disoriented looking at this, I do, too! I took it looking straight down, but it still seems outta whack to me!

Friday when I got off the bus after work, gusty winds had strewn the Goodwill parking lot with enough petals that auto tires made tracks, as if we'd had a light pink snow! They stuck because we'd had a bit of rain. Imagine that.

I managed to catch a few petals as they fell, thanks to the sport setting on my camera.

These petals came to rest in a depression made where the sidewalk came up against the slightly mounded earth of a flower bed beside the Goodwill parking lot.

If you click, you'll see more petals on the wind, blown from the bounteous boughs of blossoms.

Wonderfully, memorably beautiful.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cosmic Coincidence

Duncan, the sweetest little dog in the world, didn't place high enough to have his name mentioned on the air on K-Hits 106.7. He said to tell you that he's A-OK with this turn of events and will now return to the comfort of his lap-sized quilt and his rocker.

I'm fine and dandy, too, listening to the hits of the '60s and '70s on Honk. The memories began to fly through my mind, ricocheting through time. As I waited for the announcement, I decided to look up that song, "Smoking in the Boys Room."

Why that particular one, you ask? I'll tell you.

Back in the '90s, when I worked weekends at the Antique Mall of the South in Ridgeland, one Henry Weck had a booth in the mall. Turns out Henry played the drums with Brownsville Station, and according to Wikipedia that's their most famous song.

What a coincidence, right? Doesn't hold a candle to this one, believe me. Not 10 seconds after I'd finished reading Wikipedia's entry about Brownsville Station, with its mention of Henry (nicknamed H-Bomb), Mark Lindsay announced his next song, "Smoking in the Boys Room"!!!!!! Right after "Smoking in the Boys Room," the winner's name was called--Buddy.

I'll always have the upper of the Brownsville Station-Henry-Weck-coincidence tempering the downer of the mascot announcement. It's a great memory, too, in the cosmic scheme of things.

Henry never struck me as a rock-n-roller, more like a guy with great taste in antiques, collectibles, and dogs--he had miniature dachshunds, and I assume he still does; we've lost touch, doggone it. For some intriguing candid shots of Henry, then and now, look him up on Google Images. The site at is pretty great, too. I need to try to find Henry somehow or other.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Leaves, leaves, everywhere ... and not a leaf to sweep! Three cheers for the City of Portland and Neighbors West Northwest: Hip, hip, hooray!

Portland is loaded with trees. And you know that a goodly number of trees lose their leaves in the fall. What seemed unusual to Mama and me was that trees up here lose their leaves all year long. For instance, all summer over in southeast Portland we saw leaves piled high on cars that appeared to have not been driven in weeks or months. When we got settled here in northwest Portland in October, more and more leaves fell, clumping and lumping on the streets beside the sidewalks, clogging the drain grates at intersections--not everywhere but enough so that I noticed it when I parked the car and bumped-de-bumped over sort of long ridges of wet, pulpy leaves.

Then, the next to last week of November, for blocks around our building, signs like the one you see above blanketed the neighborhood. Didn't take much for us to figure out that something was up, but what? We'd seen similar signs posted when moving vans were to arrive the next day or when houses were being remodeled and had those second-story-trash-removal-chutes that have to dump into the back of a truck.

But what could be causing these signs to be up and down the streets, all over the place? Naturally I got online and here's what I discovered. Three scheduled times each year, the city and the neighborhood association join forces to clean the streets, ridding them in one fell swoop of leaves. Well, it's really a series of five fell swoops as they divide and conquer the leaves.

The signs are not kidding about towing those foolhardy enough to leave their vehicles in the chosen area on its scheduled morning. The minimum amount you'd pay in 2006 if your vehicle got towed was $171; in 2007 it's $172, and it all depends on how quickly you can find out that your car has been towed and get it out of the tow lot. Of course, you'd think anybody'd realize that they'd left their car where it shouldn't be and that therefore it'd been towed. But, face it, if you're a brick-shy-of-a-load kinda person who LEFT the car, then you just might be slow on the uptake about getting it outta hock!

Roused by vehicle and shovel noise, I took the following photos when I was home sick on Dec. 1, with my teensy wonderful Nikon CoolPix, before the last charged batteries died and I headed back to bed!

Our second Northwest Clean Sweep happened on Good Friday, with the next two scheduled for July 27 and November 30.
One new thing I saw last week, the putting out of the signs. About 7:10 a.m. as I waited at NW 21st Avenue and Everett for the #17 bus, I noticed a good-sized flat-bed truck moving slowly through the intersection. What could that be, piled just so on the bed and not sliding off? Just as quickly as I thought that, it hit me that the stacks and stacks were the little yellow sign holders. In the next second two guys walking slowly beside the truck each grabbed a sign, folded it open as he walked to the sidewalk where each one set down his sign, going on and on like a well-oiled machine until they were out of sight. They were moving way too quick for me to get my camera out and turn it on! After workmI got this the close-up of a sign on NW 22nd Avenue.

NW Everett from Mama's bedroom window--totally without parked cars. If you click on it, you get an out-of-focus look at the masses of leaves, many in layers at least five inches deep, and the string of yellow-legged signs.

Here at the intersection, as seen from the kitchen window, is one of a fleet of dump trucks. Quicker than you could jump into a pile of raked leaves, these dump trucks became filled with a load of leaves, resembling giant cauldrons of lumpy brown soup that lapped the sides of the dump truck bed when the truck had to stop for a tow truck to go by, or regular city traffic.

On the left you've got just one of the towings I saw; on the right the street cleaner truck comes along after the leaves have been picked up from that side of the street.

A car this time.

This is a much better picture for you to click on to get an idea of the amount of leaves. Plus, you can see the little vehicle that scrapped the leaves in front of it into piles to be picked up and put into the dump trucks. It's on the top right side of the photo; to its right, a tow truck is hooking up someone's vehicle. You can see that the left side of the street has already been visited by the little vehicle. It shows up a bit better in the close-up I cropped for you.

Ah, there's the little vehicle, hard at work. Y'all remember those great big Richard Scary children's books? Wouldn't he have fun with this Northwest Clean Sweep?

In a staggered group of two, street cleaning machines with brushes and water get a close as possible to the curb.

This one is out of sequence but it does show that humans helped the machines by using shovels to break out clumps from the drain grates and those lumps of leaves sort of molded against the curb. I walk between the newspaper box and the sign post every morning on the way to the bus stop. During and after a hard rain, the puddle could look somewhat like this shot, maybe not so leaf-filled, but definitely extending way out from the curb, hence Weather Ready Woman's shiny black rubber boots!

Back story on the old black car which I believe I recognize as some sort of early 1970s Porsche: It sat without moving for about six weeks, across the street from us and up the hill just a bit, parked neatly at the curb. Current info: Evidently the engine was beyond functioning. A girl was at the wheel, a guy all alone in back until help arrived.

After traffic cleared the intersection, it rolled away, out of sight to the north on NW 22nd Ave. To get out of the area being swept on this particular morning, they had to push it a minimum of eight blocks. After that, don't you think all of the parking spaces had already been taken by people who'd moved their cars before the sweep began? I wonder how far they actually had to push the car. At least the street sloped down, even if they had to turn right to find a parking spot. If they had to turn left to find somewhere to park, they probably needed more helping hands--the area streets begin to rise rather quickly.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Vote for Duncan!

Remember this recent photo I took of Duncan?

Well, the very next week I heard an interesting annoucement on the radio, at K-Hits 106.7. Seems that Mark Lindsay's dog was being demoted from her job as official mascot for a month. Lindsay asked listeners to send in photos of their pets for "Mark's Very Important Pet Mascot Contest." Aha, I thought! Who better to nominate than Duncan, the Dapper Dachshund?

He's got Saturday-night-radio-show-mascot written all over his little face, don't you think? With that in mind and trying not to get too excited about the possibility of actually getting to meet Mark Lindsay, the Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders, the one I remember as the cutest guy on "Where the Action Is" after school every afternoon back when I was Provine Ram! Those dark brown eyes! Those Beatle-like bangs! Those long legs! That tricorn hat with the feathers!

Oops, I got so excited that I couldn't stop.

I explained the whole thing to Duncan who looked calmly at me with those expressive brown eyes, sending me the telepathic message that I should enter him in the contest because he just knew that all of my family and buddies would jump at the chance to vote for him. On March 29, I did what he wanted; I e-mailed the photo of Duncan in the little green hat.

Mark e-mailed back!!!!
Mark Lindsay to me Mar 30
Thanks! We’ve just submitted your picture to the K-Hits site manager and it’s up now!
To see it, go to Mark’s page on K-Hits
From that page, look for Mark's Very Important Pet Mascot Contest and click on that link which will take you to the VIP Mascot nominees. Thanks again and good luck!
Listen to Mark every Saturday night from 7PM to 11PM Pacific Time on http://www.KHITS1067.COM!
Please also visit Mark at

Naturally I clicked the link and there was the little cutie's photo. Tickled to see that Duncan's photo was the first one posted on the contest page, I yelled and told him about it, startling the little doggie into barking a couple of times. Once he'd calmed down, I picked him up and pointed him at Honk's screen so that he could see himself there in glorious color! He sent me a reminder message: Get on that blog on Saturday, the day the voting starts, and beg y'all to vote for him.

If you're of a mind to, please go to (which is Mark Lindsay's page) and then click on Voting is Now Open (in blue) and vote for Duncan, please.

The last message Duncan sent me about the contest, before retiring for the evening a few mintues ago, was to tell you thanks and that he'll remind me to let you know how the contest goes. The winner will be declared on April 13, but it could be that you can vote on that day, too. It's not at all clear: "April 13th, the person submitting the winning mascot's picture will win a VIP package including Mark Lindsay CDs and a T-shirt from Mark Lindsay's Rock & Roll Café we'll have Mark interview you on K-Hits!"

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The little horse is gone!

In the early evening, Mama and I walked down NW 23rd with our friends Danielle, her mom Pat, and Meehan, Pat's granddaughter and Danielle's niece. I took my camera just because. Know what I mean?

First I spied this white horse across the street. It looks raring to go, despite its saddle having slipped to the side. I particulary like its juxtaposition between the car and the motorcyle. You can see the wire used to tether the little one to the horse ring, barely visible behind the motorcycle's back wheel.

A few more steps down the street brought us to the site of the horse I had found on Saturday. All that remained was the wire! It didn't appear to be cut, either! I had read about horse thieves at but hoped that I wouldn't witness such disregard for innocent creativity. Pure folly, that hope.

After a good dinner at Rose's Restaurant and Bakery, we walked back towards where their car was parked. That's when I spied this mangled but still attached horse. That's Meehan beside it. I have to believe that the horse's condition--the seriously shortened back legs, the completely missing front leg and bedraggled mane and tail that you can see all too well when you click on the photo to enlarge it--resulted from the little feller having fallen into the street, the victim of tires attached to heavy vehicles. You can see where the gray background changes in intensity so you know how close the edge of the curb is, and you can tell how long the wire is. Do you agree with my deduction?

I promise, I'll keep looking for happier horses to share with you. That won't all be this sad because I have faith in creativity.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rain, rain everywhere? Not every day, but there have been some mighty interesting ones that I've lived through as if I were a native!

According to the National Weather Service at 5:02 a.m. PDT on March 25, a slow-moving cold front brought heavy rain to the area on Saturday March 24, during the day and the night. Some coastal areas in northern Oregon and southern Washington got nearly 3 inches. In Portland from midnight to midnight, a record was set with 0.88 inch (breaking the 0.83 inch record set in 1948--the year before I was born). At the National Weather Service office out to the east of the airport and just south of the Columbia River, 1.29 inches fell.

From what we could see out our windows, a little over 12 miles south and west of the airport, I'm leaning toward us getting over an inch in Northwest Portland. At 5:30 a.m. Saturday, I awoke to the sound of rain hitting the windows, an infrequent occurrence in my short-lived experience here. It rained off and on all day. Then, as predicted, the real rain started in the evening. It never slowed down, and when I woke up at 2:15 a.m., I walked over to the living room windows to look at the streetlight. Yep, it was still raining just as hard and swift. Satisfied, I crawled back into bed and fell fast asleep, dreaming of the beautiful flowers and blue skies to come. When I woke up at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, it had slacked off to practically nothing. By the afternoon, the sun was out amid scattered clouds.

What I cannot fathom about the heavy rain here is this, and I'm wondering if some part of physics or some such science could explain it. When the rain is falling so swift and close together that, in the glow of the early morning streetlights, it resembles nothing better than a showerhead full on, why can I not see that multitude of drops when I look straight out our 4th floor windows or down at the street? I'm not kidding; it's like sheets of water, and I cannot see it! But if I look at the streetlight out the bathroom window or the one out the living room window, I can see a downpour--even without having my glasses on! Is it a perspective thing, because I'm up in the rain on the 4th floor, instead of at street level looking up at it? If I stand transfixed at the living room window and allow my eyes to notice only motion, with my glasses on, I can sometimes see it raining if the drops are large enough. Sometimes during the day, if I look at the wet street long enough, I can see the raindrops causing a continuous glittering, a motion caused by the changes in light as the drops hit the rain-blackened pavement.

If I hadn't learned the trick of looking at the streetlights, many a morning I would've walked right out into the rain and quickly looked like a wet fool! It's got to the point that I use my raincoat as my outer layer all the time, not that I expect to get in that sort of drenching rain--they don't come along that often. It's just that it's so easy to put up the hood and keep right on waiting for the bus or walking to the Fred Meyer or Zupan's or to the bank or the Burger King for my morning senior Coca Cola. The mornings that I saw the downpour in the streetlight, I also put on my shiny black rubber boots. I never take an umbrella with me, on good advice from Lamont and Leland.

Here's what Dave Salesky, meteorologist at KGW-TV, had to say in a Weather Blog post from 11/30/06: As Officer Joe Friday would say "Just the Facts Ma'am." So here they are... It was the wettest November ever in Portland 11.77" of rain 6.36" above normal, smashing a record that stood for over 60 years. On the coast some places like Astoria saw over 20" of rain. The Rose City had 3 days with an inch or more of precipitation, the heaviest amount 2.53" on the 6th. On the 6th we also saw our warmest temperature 68 degrees. We had only two count'em two dry days this month the 16th and 17th.

I remember November 6 in Portland, The Rose City. It was a Monday. I stood at the bus stop after work, waiting patiently for my first bus, with water running down my sleeves and dripping off my finger tips. I couldn't believe I was calmly standing there, like I'd been doing it all my life, wearing my inexpensive rain-resistant windbreaker with a hood. It barely covered my torso; my legs were soaking wet in the few minutes before the bus arrived. If I'd been in Mississippi without an umbrella, I would've been running for the car or the front door of home or work or the grocery store. Or I'd be precariously balancing an umbrella and a bag of papers to grade and a purse and a bag or two of groceries, hoping that the umbrella wouldn't get blown inside out or draw the attention of a bolt of lightning. Y'all Mississippians know what I mean.

By Wednesday, November 8, I'd gone to Target and bought my knee-high rubber books and to REI where I found my green Helly Hansen raincoat with the hood. It's rain repellant, fabulously so. I'm ready now, as you can see. I called myself Weather Ready Woman on the Dec. 14, 2006, post where this picture first appeared.

On particularly windy days, I wore the two raincoats. My almost-knee-length black one has no hood; my near-bootay-length green one has a hood. My goal was to keep myself as dry as possible, hence I wore the green one on top of the black one and my rubber boots. When my dear brother heard that, he said I must look like a bag lady. My answer was, no, I looked like I knew how to stay dry! And my inexpensive windbreaker has been relegated to emergency duty only, stashed in the car for those infrequent times when I drive somewhere and it starts to rain.

For me, dealing with the rain in Portland has been a freeing experience of bounteous proportion. I exult in it. Beguiled, I look at it out the windows. Curious, I walk in it. Now and then, it blows in my face. Beneath my hood, I wear my red Dale Earnhardt Jr. cap or a green and white flowered Race Girl cap or a visor that looks like the black and white checkered flag at the end of the race. Then the hood cannot slide down over my glasses, obscuring my view; if the wind whips at my hood, I merely tighten it using the those little sliding plastic things on the elastic cords. I walk through torrents running downhill on sidewalks and leaf-clogged watery intersections, knowing my boots will keep my feet dry.

I feel like a kid again. It's a joy that I wonder about--as the years pass and I grow more used to the rain in the Pacific Northwest, will I lose the joy?

I realize by now that some of y'all are thinking, "Whew! The girl needs to get a life!" Truth be told, I've got one, and I love it!

Here are pictures I took from our 4th floor kitchen window the evening of March 24. I pushed the window all the way up, took my seat backwards on a kitchen table chair, stabilized my zoom lens on top of the chair back, and took these photos. I love 'em.

(To give you some perspective on the following pictures, this first one is the apartment building diagonally across the intersection from our building, and the street light at the corner in between. It's the only one that I took on March 25 when the rain had stopped.)

Here's the apartment building the evening of March 24. You'll have to click on it to get a good view of the rain in the streetlight. Can you see the man at his computer in the upper left?

It's as if I took these pictures from inside a waterfall.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Little Horse That Could, All Over Portland

One night the week before the return of "Dancing With the Stars," Lamont, Lindsay, Mama and I walked down NW 23rd to eat supper. We ended up at the Santa Fe Taqueria, on the corner of NW 23rd Avenue and Johnson. On the way there and back, we saw several plastic horses of varying sizes tied to these metal horse rings at the curb, on both sides of the street. The seeds to curiosity took hold, but I didn't have my camera with me to document what I saw!

This past Saturday I rode the #15 bus to the bank at the corner of NW 23rd and Lovejoy, then I moseyed back up the avenue towards our street. (Honest, that's how Merriam-Webster spells the past tense of mosey.)

Imagine my joy at spying a little plastic horse tied to a ring at the corner of 23rd and Hoyt! Even better, a small shop occupied the basement floor of the building there, its door a few steps below sidewalk level, affording me a great view of said horse. Quickly I got my shot, determined to Google at the first opportunity to see what other Portlanders had to say about the cute little hooved animals.

Now you can see the ring better, to the right of the horse. I particularly love the flowing mane and tail as well as the four stockings, black over white.

I Googled "curb horse rings portland oregon" and thanks to a photo posted July 10, 2006, at and the text that accompanies it, I found "the horse project," at Background there says:

"It all began ... with a man named Scott Wayne Indiana. He knew about the horse rings in many Portland sidewalks and thought it was a shame that we don't tie our horses to them anymore. Scott decided to change that and tied his first pony to a horse ring in the fall of 2005 in the revitalized Pearl District in Northwest Portland. After a few months, he decided to expand the horse project and get some help. Now these horses are showing up all over Portland. You can find them in most parts of Portland now."

I'll keep you posted about others that I come across. Maybe I'll even get myself a Goodwill toy horse, decorate it and tie it up to a ring in my neighborhood. Hey, Jacksonians, does this remind you a teensy little bit of the catfish around town? Sort of?